As the New York Times’ Dave Kehr points out in a recent highlight piece, Orson Welles’ filmmaking debut came seven years before 1941’s “Citizen Kane,” with an eight-minute short titled “The Hearts of Age.” Teenager Welles made the film with a friend from school, William Vance. In this early endeavor, Welles dons old-age makeup — a sign of disguises to come in “Kane.” Watch below.
The main gist of Kehr’s article, however, focuses on forty minutes of footage filmed by Welles in 1938, made to be shown with theatrical production “Too Much Johnson,” a revival of an 1894 comedy the director planned for the 1938 season of the Mercury Theatre.
When the show closed following a negatively received preview in Stony Creek, Connecticut, Welles put the footage aside. Mercury Theatre members, including eventual screen star Joseph Cotten and Welles’ wife at the time, Virginia Nicholson, were part of the abandoned film.
Recently restored by the George Eastman House, “Too Much Johnson” is set to have its premiere at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival on October 5, and at the Eastman House October 16.